Good week, bad week for diversity in fashion

It’s been a rollercoaster of a week for fashion magazines.

 

We all celebrated on Thursday when the first edition of  Vogue edited by new Editor-in-Chief, Edward Enninful landed on our doormats with mixed-race British model and feminist activist Adwoa Aboah as the cover star.

 

The December 2017 issue which, as Enninful stated on Instagram, is “dedicated to Great Britain and the creatives who represent it” and has been praised by many for its diverse cast in not only race but in age and gender.

 

But within 24 hours of the new Vogue arriving on newsstands, Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o accused Grazia UK of editing out and smoothing her hair to “fit a more Eurocentric notion” of beauty in this week’s issue of the weekly glossy.

 

Nyong’o, who is Lancôme’s first black ambassador, posted before and after images on her Instagram. She told her followers: “I am disappointed that Grazia UK invited me to be on their cover and then edited out and smoothed my hair to fit their notion of what beautiful hair looks like.”

 

As I have made clear so often in the past with every fiber of my being, I embrace my natural heritage and despite having grown up thinking light skin and straight, silky hair were the standards of beauty, I now know that my dark skin and kinky, coily hair are beautiful too. Being featured on the cover of a magazine fulfills me as it is an opportunity to show other dark, kinky-haired people, and particularly our children, that they are beautiful just the way they are. I am disappointed that @graziauk invited me to be on their cover and then edited out and smoothed my hair to fit their notion of what beautiful hair looks like. Had I been consulted, I would have explained that I cannot support or condone the omission of what is my native heritage with the intention that they appreciate that there is still a very long way to go to combat the unconscious prejudice against black women’s complexion, hair style and texture. #dtmh

A post shared by Lupita Nyong’o (@lupitanyongo) on

Lupita Nyong’o included the hashtag “dtmh” which stands for “don’t touch my hair”. Don’t Touch My Hair is a song by Solange Knowles who also complained that her hair had been altered by the Evening Standard Magazine.

 

Diversity campaigner and fashion activist Caryn Franklin MBE, who co-founded All Walks, spoke exclusively to Fashion North about the row.  She said: “We cannot let first and early steps in the production of inclusive imagery create division. This is not a binary of right and wrong but a massive shift towards better representation in front of and BEHIND the camera.

 

“This is an acknowledgment that the old system was broken and uncool. All of us have a lot to learn and if we can go forward together truly learning…really listening and learning to respect and celebrate all difference, then that is the best definition of cool there is.”

 

Grazia responded to Nyong’o’s criticisms by apologising for their cover, saying: “Grazia is committed to representing diversity throughout its pages and apologises unreservedly to Lupita Nyong’o.

 

“Grazia magazine would like to make it clear that at no point did they make any editorial request to the photographer for Lupita Nyong’o’s hair to be altered on this week’s cover, nor did we alter it ourselves.

 

“But we apologise unreservedly for upholding the highest of editorial standards in ensuring that we were aware of all alterations that had been made.”

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